All items: William Boyd

As the child of bookshop owners, Simon Rae grew up knowing that running a bookshop might be his destiny. But the revelation that he would rather write books than sell them took him along a different path…

Ali Knight explores the murky depths of the Grand Union Canal in Londonand explains how it inspires her crime fiction.

John Greening takes us to the poetic village of Little Gidding and its nearby literary landmarks.

Miranda Miller introduces us to Henry James’ Lamb House in Rye and its connections with various writers.

Rob Chapman shares the importance of wholly invented bands and songs in his creative life, and considers other examples of imaginary culture and the fictitious within our fictions.

Horatio Clare ponders the necessary pragmatism of the professional writer, and shares a glimpse of what writers really talk about amongst themselves.

Clare Pollard celebrates the playfulness and variety of nonsense verse, sharing examples from across the centuries.

Faced with the perennial question for writers of ‘how do you come up with your plots?’ David Davies considers his own and others’ practice, and finds that it depends very much on the kind of writer you are, as to whether you spend months on research and planning before putting pen to paper, or rely on that moment of inspiration to set your story in motion.

Mavis Cheek continues her conversation with James McConnachie, discussing how her writing life has charted enormous changes in women’s lives and regretting the dearth of humour in ‘serious’ contemporary fiction.

Audiobooks are for non-readers, thought Katharine Grant — before she tried them and fell under their spell. Now, reading Joyce, she has become ‘one of those laughing walkers you instinctively avoid’; reading Edmund de Waal, she is a woman who cries at the supermarket checkout.